A wave of fear courses through the veins. Like thick black ink pushing you under. Dreams don’t come easy when you are alone. The call of love becomes nothing more than a distant memory. Blood drains from your arms. As the discomfort of fear overwhelms your chest. This is what it feels like, to succumb to the dread. To know without a shadow of a doubt, that this time it’s taking you under.
I don’t have Panic Attacks very often anymore. But when I do my body feels it’s overwhelming dark pull. My chest beats uncomfortable, my breathe shallows, and my thoughts turn in every which direction. But eventually, I suppose from shear instinct. My breathe slows and deepens till the dark waters gradually push away.
The question always comes up, rather I jot down these experiences for myself or someone else. I suppose the simple answer is both. For every moment I feel a bit “laissez-faire” about a given situation. There always lurks that ever present fear, that black strain that first invaded my mind some 22 years ago. And while I do a pretty good job of keeping it at bay. At some point it always finds it way back in. Just know, that in those vulnerable moments, it doesn’t mean you are weak. It simple means you are human.
I had promised myself no more medical “gloom and doom” for a while. That I was going to write some positive and uplifting messages for a change. But my medical issues of the last month and past few days have made it harder not to give myself a voice of relief. If you’re a follower you maybe well aware of my recent gallbladder surgery and subsequent problems. In short, my liver is having and very hard time adjusting to the loss of an old if not damaged friend.
So for the past two days, my PCP has had me take a series of test to determine a cause and possible solution to the situation. The accumulating abdominal fluid has gotten hard to ignore, in fact I’ve put on 30 lbs. since my surgery. After a series of test, it has been determined I have cirrhosis of the liver. Probably caused by my less then healthy past lifestyle. Later this week I will have another outpatient procedure to drain the excess fluid. This is only a patch to a much better problem, but I’m sure a more permanent course of treatment will be determined.
I suppose I should be sad or at the least upset with myself. But what’s done is done, and all anyone can do is continue to survive. Through my mental health breakdown, to my continuing heart issues; I’ve determined in my mind to live. After three years of fighting these digestive issues and going through massive weight loss. It’s almost comforting to hopefully see some a light at the end of this long tunnel.
Oh, I have my moments of fear, anxiety, and anger; but I quickly get them out. And maybe that’s the whole point of sharing this. That no matter how bleak the outcome, some light, some moment of peace can be found. I was bitter and mad for so long, taking out my frustrations not only on others, but mostly on myself. The end result being the man you’re reading about today. But even bad situations have a funny way of becoming moments of enlightenment. But that only happens if you allow yourself to see past the pain.
Through all the misery I see, I also see potential. When I speak to others, I do my best to either make them laugh or at the very least be encouraging. You know, it’s not hard to see the potential in others. But when it comes to ourselves, we can be our own worst enemies.
Growing up in a working class family, my parents were raised dirt poor. My father was born during the depression and mother towards the end of World War Two. They both grew up hard, all be it, in loving homes. But those times were different, love and feelings often gave way to survival. So growing up my parents incorporated those same techniques when raising me and my siblings.
Right or wrong, I wasn’t complimented or to a point even encouraged. By today’s standards I was verbally abused at home and at school. This in turn, has greatly influenced my unfortunate parenting skills. While it’s too late for me to do anything but apologize to my children for being a prick. This brings me back to encouragement, while we may all wear blinders when it comes to our own talents. Don’t let that blindness stop you from encouraging others. And while you’re at it, save a little of that for yourself.
Hot. Doing my best to stay hydrated. Not an easy thing to do in this 100° weather. My lips stay parched, my muscles weak. I’m not sweating, which worries me a little. I’m not cramping up, I’m just tired and weak. The swelling makes it a little hard to breathe, but not to the point of distress. My clothes don’t fit and I have no control over my bodily functions.
It feels as if I’m treading ground I haven’t walked in years, without the crushing chest pain. My eyes want to sleep, but there is no rest. I don’t feel like talking or engaging anyone. It’s more like I’m awaiting some news I kinda don’t want to hear. All in all, I’m just tired.
Words, words, words they seem to escape me for the moment. The adrenaline that pumped yesterday has faded away. Now it’s time for the rubber meet the road; and those words of affirmation put to the test. So I silently, patiently belly crawl through the barbed wire of some long forgotten war. Looking to the other side, whining and complaining the whole way. With the dirt and the mud rubbing my ass raw, I still crawl. Not because I want too, but because I got too.
Well, here I am, deprecating all over myself again, for whatever reason. Not exactly the way I pictured my senior years. But it is what it is, so I throw on another Depends and head back to the bathroom. I’m considering changing up my investment portfolio to buy stock in adult personal hygiene products. I’m seeing great deal of potential in that. God knows why I’m laughing about this or even making light of it. I suppose it’s just my way of coping.
As far as writing goes, I haven’t felt particularly inspired lately. Even the few things I’ve jotted down feel forced and recycled. Since my surgery three weeks ago, I’ve put on at least 30 lbs. and at least 10” around my waist. I look like a pregnant man with toothpick arms and legs. My legs and arms can barely pull me up from a seated position. But once I’m up, I’m usually okay, if I take my time.
I’m usually good at adapting to new realities, but this one is pushing my limits. I guess the part that’s beating me up is the not knowing. During my post-op exam, the surgeon was nonchalant about my concerns, saying it would go away in a few weeks. Well, it’s been a few weeks and it’s only gotten worse. So what do you do? My next PCP appointment isn’t till late Monday afternoon. And my follow-up with my gastroenterologist isn’t for a month. So I sit here, way too uncomfortable to sleep. Defecating on myself over and over again. Asking questions without getting any answers. Seemingly the only adult in the room, with a herd of cats that can’t get their shit together.
Waking up with this nasty taste in my mouth, I pick myself up from my troubles and write. Feeling better than I have for the last few nights, my mind tires of thoughts of pain and discomfort. The scales of emotion are hopefully turning to a more optimistic frame of mind. But this change often doesn’t comes without it’s cost.
Yesterday was a particularly uncomfortable and embarrassing day. With the unpredictable defecations of a toddler, I had to run errands outside the home. At least in town I have the security of my daughter’s home to escape to if needed. So off I went. Thankfully, my errands were quick and without incident. The regretful part did not come till later in the evening.
As evening approached my sugar was getting a little low. Dinner included me dicing fresh vegetables and preparations included number of steps. My bride unable to handle most complicated task due to her condition, left the cutting and preliminary steps up to me. Normally this is just an everyday thing. But after the stress of the day and my rising physical anxiety, I exploded.
My wife was getting frustrated with my more than apparent critical tone. This in turn infuriated me. Causing me to scream out a series of unfortunate expletives I sorely regretted saying after closing my mouth. This left my wife in tears and me feeling like a pile of… you know. We finished dinner silently and separately, letting the moment pass.
As a caregiver I am held to a certain standard. To the point that my emotions have to be kept in check. Once my temper starts to flare, I usually have to go into safe mode and bury my feelings deep within. With no real outlet other than an occasional text to a long-distance friend. I am left alone to deal with my fallible humanity.
Why I’m writing any of this is unclear. On social media we hide behind a curtain of strength and happiness. Yet on the inside we all have our fears, our anger, and our regrets. Me and my wife are okay now, but the damage was done. The Saint of Lucille Avenue has once again been proven to be no more than a sinner. But what can you do? Other apologize and ask forgiveness. Of those you hurt and of yourself.
“Nearly four in the morning”, he thinks to himself. Laying next to his peacefully sleeping partner. “No worries on her mind” he jealously says. As he wonders through the endless thoughts in his head. He smells memories of an ocean. The slight crashing of the waves. And for a brief moment, he’s walking effortlessly on the sand.
But those days were always numbered. His mind clouded by the words of the doctors. But he’s fought back before and he can do it again. “Everything changes”, he thinks to himself. “I’m getting too old for this shit”, he mumbles under his breath. Still, he searches deep for some inspiration. No gods to cry out too. No phone a friend to call.
Distant and alone, his searches his own soul. Hearing ghost of the past. Friends, teachers, the family that created his DNA; all calling, all comforting his troubled soul. “This to shall pass”, the ghost say. He looks down and sees a broken sanddollar. As his mind clouds over with the wistful mist of rest.
Let’s talk about how shitty I feel. (And I mean that in the most literal sense of the word.) I’m weak, living on water, Jello, broth, and an occasional pack of instant grits. But the bloating in my belly still persists to the point of creating new stretch marks. Then for the third time in so many weeks I fell to the ground hard. Maybe I shouldn’t be documenting my personal troubles like this. But the whole point of writing it down is to let others who suffer know, they are not alone.
This has been a very trying time, and some may even say, I’ve had it worst. But with each situation I always fought and bounced back. We’re always told that each of these troubles can be a learning experience. Well frankly, I’m about ready to graduate. This shit (again, quite literally) is getting old. And I know there are many that feel the same way about their given situation. At the moment this is not a learning experience, it’s me just trying to survive. Complete with reward challenges and a tribal council, just waiting to judge my every move.
If this sounds a bit bitter, well it should. Because I am tired and ready for this shit (again…) to end. For over three years I’ve been dealing with this in one form or another. Doctor appointment after doctor appointment, all guessing at the cause. If there’s any bright light in all of this, it would be that I have lost over 120 lbs. But even that came at a tremendous cost of lost muscle mass in my arms and legs, hence the falling down. Sacrifice and due diligence are noble pursuits. But in a moment of pain, the last thing you’re thinking about is any kind of trophy. You’re just wanting things to be normal again.
I was awakened this morning from a deep sleep. I was dreaming of the ocean, smelling the salty air, walking hand in hand with someone I love. But the abrupt and persistent pain in my lower gut awakened me, reminding me that those days have passed. That the reality my situation limits my movements and any dream of silent walks and being able to be alone are long gone. I’m trying to not be bitter about the situation. Telling myself, “That it is what it is”. But the words only echo through my mind reminding me that my mind, body, and soul that are trapped in this circumstance.
I tell myself to be patient. But patience becomes a convenient term my for time spent in hell. I’m mad. Not only at my circumstance, but also at myself. It is said that ignorance is no excuse for the law. And yet, I continued to kill myself with a thousand tiny cuts. Knowing damn well I’d have to eventually pay the toll, much like my parents did. It’s bitterness and anger that fuel this tale. It’s honesty and a sense of failure that fan the flames. I will never cure myself with just the few words typed on this screen. It took me years to get here, and it will take me years more to get out.
Life, happiness, sadness, anger, and fear all roll like an ocean tide. And right now, the tides pretty damn low. Not so much because I’m thinking of my own suffering. But because I’m watching someone I love suffer as well. Letting go of perceived responsibilities is never easy. But the grace I grant those I love; is the very thing I have to grant myself. Frustration and limitations are all just a part of growing old. Acceptance and understanding are things you and I must embrace, in order to recover and live again.
Another summer morning babysitting George again. All the swelling in my belly has my back hurting, so I pulled out my daughter’s back massager working on that. George is pouting, because I won’t let him finish chewing up the plastic he pulled out of his toy. I thought I had quit raising youngins years ago…I guess I was wrong. At least he’s quit brooding now, because he’s back over here now laying across my feet.
It is so deadly silent in this house. At home Lisa or someone has the TV or something going all the time. At the moment all I can hear is the massage pad humming and George sighing because he’s bored. But, I kinda like bored. It’s beats the alternative of hearing nothing but noise. Now don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate my family. But every once in a while, it would be nice to not have someone barge through my door while I’m working. Apparently, they missed the class on knocking.
But for some people they live for the noise, they can’t stand the silence. I remember decades ago I was the same way, I thrived on noise. The adrenaline rush of the panic blocked out all the negativity I was feeling. It wasn’t till my mental breakdown that I realized I needed the silence. I needed to hear those negative cries for help. You see, there is no other way to heal the cut unless you address the wound. I’ve been experiencing a lot of noise lately. So today is a good day to listen and flush out the toxins that are still plaguing my mind.
There’s nothing much to motivate you, when you’re up at 2:37 in the morning. It’s never one thing that awakens me, it’s sort of a combination things. From the tightness and weight on my gut, to the droning headache, and of course my ever present anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, things are much better than they were 10 or 15 years ago. But the shift from mental to physical anxiety, produces the same result.
So I lay here and type out these stresses and emotions. Trying to give myself some semblance of relief. But it is so exhausting dealing with the same emotional pain time and time again. But I push through, like a good little soldier. Always fearing the moment when the call to arms stops coming, and I’m left with nothing to push me forward.
I don’t mean to be depressive or at the very least mealy-mouthed about the situation. Because it is what it is. I’m clinically anxious and depressed, mostly from a life full of bad choices. But it’s a chicken or the egg situation when it comes to blame. I suppose the key to it all is forgiveness. Forgiveness for the abusers and forgiveness for myself. In a society that calls individuals like myself snowflakes or overly emotional. Feelings do matter. How else do you explain the “insane” behavior we see around us today? So seek peace, search your soul, and most important of all plant good seed. Even in your hour of despair. Lord knows, I’m trying.
Another sleepless night blinds my better judgement. But this time I simply get up and go to my workstation and fire up the old PC. Hoping that maybe the quiet glow of the screen will awaken solutions from a long-forgotten past. Granting me solace from a world long ago. Sitting up seems to have solved some of my gravity issues. Allowing me to be more comfortable, let’s just hope this comfort can lead me back to golden rest.
The soft clicking of the keys brings its own quiet restitution. The glow of the desk lamp brings up familiar memories of late-night conference calls and all night calculations. Oddly enough it puts a smile on my face thinking of those days. Funny how the memories of pain and near destruction fade. But my body still reminds me of those facts every day. Still, I don’t hold any bitterness against my ambition. Because I fought hard for those goals that brought me here.
I understand ambition, I understand what it’s like to reach a goal. I also know the pain of a physical and mental breakdown and its aftereffects. Seek balance in whatever you do. Don’t allow one desire to blind you to the need for wholeness and contentment. I sit here now a living testament to the power of reaching a goal at all costs, only to stand on that summit and feel nothing. Don’t allow fear to overcome your peace of mind. Every day I wage war against my own fear. Only to realize that fear is just a part of the balance of life. That only through acceptance and love am I able to focus and discover my ever evolving truth.
It’s so damn easy to tell someone to “quiet their thoughts”. But it’s a whole other thing to do it yourself. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve wrote, you know my work is littered with confessions of my own imperfects. Especially when it comes to my ability of quieting my own thoughts. It often amazes me to be able to process so much information about a subject, yet never being able to put it into practice.
I’ve listened to so motivational speakers and read so many books on the subject, that my mind is now numb to their affect. All they ever left me with was more guilt and more feelings of imperfection. And don’t get me started on religion, my wife begs you. Honey, I lived in the abyss for many, many years. “Hello darkness, my old friend…” was freaking theme song.
But I’m not going to lay here and give you another canned and homogenized version of how to overcome. I value your intelligence more than that. What I am going to say it is a non-stop journey that hopefully takes you to your nirvana or heaven or whatever. But my main focus here is to tell you, I understand. I get how you feel. To wake up in cold sweats and being afraid for no reason. I understand.
Despite my better judgement, I come outside to have gnats for brunch. I wanted to check the garden, but I left my waders at the river. The garden looks horrible with too many weeds and blown over sunflowers. But the peas still look okay, and I don’t see too much blight on them from all the rain. We are still getting some of that wrap around from Elsa. But at least the wind is blowing pushing these damn bugs around.
I’ve been up since 4 am, not having a lot of pain in any particular area. Just having enough aches to keep me up. I did catch myself an hour and a half nap between 7 and 9. Got up and began playing phone tag with the doctors and my pharmacist to get Lisa’s prescriptions refilled. This is becoming a way too often occurrence, I believe it’s getting about time to light a few fires under some asses. Being a caregiver may seem rewarding and even noble work. But in all honestly, it’s tiring, thankless, and unpaid.
I understand what it’s like dealing with a loved one that can’t fend for themselves. Oh, Lisa tries and often does the things she sets out to do. But there are those moments, when you wish nothing more than to just take care of yourself. These are hard things to say, but that doesn’t make it them untrue. For 34 years I have been looking after and making decisions for my wife. For 30 years, I’ve been doing the same for my son. Listen, I’m not asking for pity or even a pat on the back. I walked into this with my eyes wide open. What I am saying is to all those out there, I understand.
Popping my three o’clock meds, my mind runs through so many scenarios. Clouded degrees of measure, between the what ifs and disaster prevention. The anxious mind is all about these scenarios. I mean, everything from the possible to the impossible. Laying here now I have to collect my wits, slap my hands together, and breathe in a prayerful pose. Raised more on the panic of “Lord, help me Jesus!”, then Namaste. I’m sure some of my peers would look down on me for being so “new agey”. But, what you gonna do?
So I take the good with the bad, listen to the complaints, and go about my day. I’ve learned no one is more wrong or right then anyone else. And that what you see coming through the door, is pretty much what you’ll see heading out. Still it amuses me to see people complain at the drop of a hat, when they don’t get what they want. Having temper tantrums like my three-year-old grandson. I don’t know what got me and that tangent but, what you gonna do?
Focus! Yeah, I guess that’s what we were talking about. I often find myself wondering from one thought to the next. And while that can be a catalyst for a great many ideas, oftentimes it leaves you staring down at a floor full of broken promises, made usually to yourself. So you try and hide the trash but guess what? It’s still there. Compromise, not only with yourself, but others alleviate the clutter. Making simple goals instead of one giant task, creates doable solutions. While listening creates understanding, that in turn creates clarity. So, in today’s noisy ass world, what you gonna do?
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.